The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writer: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Based on: Reif Larsen‘s novel The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
Cast: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie, Niamh Wilson, Jakob Davies, Dominique Pinon
T.S. (Kyle Catlett) is a scientist, despite his young years. And he just invented the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine that humanity ever managed to built. For that, he is supposed to be honored at the Smithsonian. Only that they don’t know that he is only 10 years old. Since T.S.’s family life is complicated – his mother and fellow scientist (Helena Bonham Carter) is completely occupied with her work, his father (Callum Keith Rennie) is a cowboy and farmer who doesn’t really know how to connect to T.S., his sister Gracie (Niamh Wilson) is an overdramatic teenager dreaming of an acting career and his twin brother Layton (Jakob Davies) just died – he decides to travel to the Smithsonian on his own to receive his award. But crossing practically an entire continent from the West to the East is not easily done.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a wonderful film. Great characters, touching story, beautiful images, quirky aesthetic and sense of humor. I loved every second of it.
I haven’t (yet) read the novel this is based on. I hadn’t planned to do so at all but then I was at the bookstore and took a look inside and immediately fell in love with the layout, so I already started to read it but was only a couple of chapters in before I saw the film. But at least in those first few bits the film is very true to the book.
And the material lends itself perfectly to Jeunet’s style of directing. From the color work to the quirkiness to the mixture of humor and sadness, he makes something recognizably Jeunet-y and still completely new.
He also found pretty much the perfect cast to work with. Kyle Catlett carries the film mostly without any problems, which is even more remarkable for his young age. Helena Bonham Carter was great, as was Judy Davis who had one of the best characters to work with. (And I admit that I fell in love with Callum Keith Rennie a little bit. Or a little bit more.)
And the story is just amazing. I cried my eyes out and then I was laughing again. It was sweet, touching and at the same time a huge epic and a story of everyday disasters. It’s something special.